With a recession looming, how can you negotiate a better salary?

Studies show women can be penalized when they negotiate for higher
compensation, so they often ‘just choose not to.’
Violeta Stoimenova/iStock

Women can find all sorts of ways to talk themselves out of negotiating their salaries.

Reasons might include external factors such as a looming recession or market pressure, or internal factors such as not wanting to rock the boat with management. Women may tell themselves the timing isn’t right or they’re lucky to just have a job. Jillian Climie has seen it all. As co-founder of The Thoughtful Co. in Vancouver, Ms. Climie has spent her career advising and leading teams in executive compensation and corporate governance.

“I’ve seen so many successful, intelligent, strategic women at all levels not negotiating their compensation at really key points in their career,” Ms. Climie says. “We’re not socialized to ask for what we want and ask for what we need in an employment relationship.”

Studies from Harvard University and Carnegie Mellon University found that women were penalized when they attempted to negotiate for higher compensation. Research suggests encouraging women to negotiate more and differently often backfires, and 20 per cent of women never negotiate at all.

The costs of being assertive

“As women in the workplace, we’re expected to be nice and agreeable… and that impacts how our performance is assessed,” Ms. Climie says. “But then at the same time, to be seen as competent as a leader, we have to be assertive.”

She notes that balancing these conflicting demands is a near-impossible feat.

“I find so many women don’t want to use up their social capital and be more assertive in negotiations. So, they just choose not to,” she says.

Carla Fehr, associate professor of philosophy and Wolfe Chair in Scientific and Technological Literacy at the University of

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